dis·​in·​gen·​u·​ous ˌdis-in-ˈjen-yə-wəs How to pronounce disingenuous (audio)
: lacking in candor
also : giving a false appearance of simple frankness : calculating
disingenuously adverb
disingenuousness noun

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A disingenuous remark might contain some superficial truth, but it is delivered with the intent to deceive or to serve some hidden purpose. Its base word ingenuous (derived from a Latin adjective meaning "native" or "freeborn") can describe someone who, like a child, is innocent or lacking guile or craftiness. English speakers began frequently joining the negative prefix dis- with ingenuous to create disingenuous during the 17th century.

Examples of disingenuous in a Sentence

"It's had nine murders since 1937—about the same as you would get in many small towns." This was correct, but a wee disingenuous. The AT [Appalachian Trail] had no murders in its first thirty-six years and nine in the past twenty-two. Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods, 1999
… and he egged Badger on, asking a disingenuous question about the antivivisection rally in Cleveland, and as Badger took the thought up and chewed it over, the Doctor made as if to excuse himself. T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Road to Wellville, 1993
… he has a disingenuous way of resorting to slang when he wants to make a big point but is afraid of sounding pretentious. Karen Schoemer, New York Times Book Review, 31 Oct. 1993
Unity is at best an ideal, at worst a disingenuous political slogan. Salman Rushdie, The Independent on Sunday, 25 Nov. 1990
Her recent expressions of concern are self-serving and disingenuous.
Recent Examples on the Web And upon receiving such a compliment, am I required to return one that is equally disingenuous? Judith Martin, Sun Sentinel, 19 June 2024 Her inability to locate even the slightest middle ground feels so disingenuous that something other than her emotional turmoil seems to be driving the plot. Justin Chang, The New Yorker, 17 June 2024 Because what’s disingenuous to one person can be an honest critique to another. Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 June 2024 The Council, as is often the case, is being completely disingenuous. Voice Of The People, New York Daily News, 25 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for disingenuous 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disingenuous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


dis- + ingenuous entry 1

First Known Use

1655, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of disingenuous was in 1655


Dictionary Entries Near disingenuous

Cite this Entry

“Disingenuous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disingenuous. Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

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